SPAIN UPDATE: click here
From Friday 10 July the government announced and initial list of 59 countries/territories UK tourists can travel to without the need to quarantine on return (in England anyway) – weirdly, though, you may be required to be tested or quarantine when you get to the country (or simply not be allowed in, even though the UK government says you can go). Below is all the Covid travel info I can get hold of. I’ll be doing my best to keep this page updated.
- Spain update
- What happened to the traffic light system?
- Will I need to quarantine or be tested when I get there?
- Where can you travel to?
- When might the restrictions change?
- Is it safe to travel?
- Covid travel insurance
- What will travel be like?
- How do I know all this?
Please note that this is not official advice and that, apart from the travel corridors listed below, the FCO is still advising against all but essential international travel – if you go to destinations not listed below you will be asked to provide an address where you’ll self-isolate for 14 days (you can be fined £100 if you don’t complete these details, and you could be fined up to £1,000 if you fail to self-isolate). Please also note that this article is aimed at a UK (specifically, English) audience
PLEASE NOTE: This is not official advice, this is all the information I have been able to gather so far. I will keep this updated as often as possible and when more information comes to light.
From 26 July if you arrive into the UK from Spain (mainland and islands) then you will need to quarantine in the UK for 14 days. Because the FCO is NOT advising against travel to the islands then some airlines – such as British Airways – are still going ahead, whereas others – such as TUI – have cancelled all flights and holidays.
If you were already in Spain when the announcement was made (on 25 Jul) then you should still be covered by insurance (sadly, though, when you return your employer isn’t obliged to offer you statutory sick pay for the quarantine period – you’ll have to work from home if you can).
If you’ve not yet travelled and your airline cancels your flight then you may be entitle to a refund . If they refuse a refund then look at getting a charge back or Section 75 from your credit card provider if you used credit card to pay. Even if your flight is not cancelled, the airline may also offer you the opportunity to change travel dates or receive a voucher for future travel – this is a good option, which airlines such as Jet2 and British Airways (via Manage My Booking) were offering, the latter under their ‘Flexible Change Policy’.
Please be aware that, even though they will allow you to switch flight (eg easyJet) some airlines may charge a change fee. Ryanair has stated that such a fee will apply, and that you will also have to pay any difference in fare (something which many other airlines are saying).
Package holiday operators such as Tui have said that they will not take travellers to destinations where there is a need to quarantine on return. This includes both mainland Spain and the islands. Tui have cancelled package holidays to the mainland and are working on cancelling holidays to the islands – you can choose to get a full refund, or amend your holiday for free (plus an additional incentive). Jet2 were allowing customers to change their holiday free of charge, but they won’t allow you to cancel. If your package holiday is cancelled by the company you were due to travel with then you are legally entitled to a full refund (legally within 2 weeks, although the travel industry is currently on its knees), but this may take time coming through.
If you decide to go ahead and travel to Spain, including the islands, then, because the FCO are now advising against all but essential travel, it’s highly unlikely that you’ll be covered by your travel insurance.
If your airline hasn’t cancelled your flight and you don’t wish to travel then, if you had your insurance in place and you booked before the pandemic (most insurers agree this date to be 13 March), then you should get a refund from insurance. If you booked after this date then you’re unlikely to be covered (Nationwide Flex account may be an exception).
In conclusion, your best options are to look into government-backed ATOL travel vouchers, or changing your dates with your airline/holiday operator/hotel.
What happened to the traffic light system?
We now have ‘travel corridors’ instead. The UK government seems to no longer have a traffic light system, making all of the countries I listed below ‘Green’ – i.e. there’s no particular warning or list of countries specified by the government that you cannot travel to. HOWEVER, if a country is NOT on the list below then you WILL be required to quarantine for 14 days when you return to the UK.
NOTE: although the UK government sets rules on these routes, quarantining rules may differ between each UK nation. Each destination country may also have testing and/or quarantine regulations in place when you arrive.
Will I have to quarantine or be tested when I get there?
Possibly. It depends on each country. In the list of travel corridor countries below I have added a 🕒 next to countries which will require you to quarantine (usually for 14 days), a 🌡️ next to countries which will require testing (either before you leave or when you enter), a 📝 next to countries which require a form to be filled out, and a ✅ next to countries where there are no restrictions. Even though the UK government is letting us travel, some countries may refuse entry due to the relatively high number of cases here – I’ve marked these countries with a ❎ (it’s unlikely that airlines will fly from the UK to these countries, but, if they do, you may be turned back when you arrive).
Where can you travel to?
According to the government: ‘From 10 July 2020, unless they have visited or stopped in any other country or territory in the preceding 14 days, passengers arriving from the following countries and territories will not be required to self-isolate on arrival into England’ (note: not Scotland, Wales or N Ireland). This list has been taken from the Department of Transport site, not the FCO site (the two lists differ).
Click on each country name, ‘Flights’, ‘Trains’ or ‘Ferries’ for the latest offers, or click on the itinerary links if you want some detailed planning help. I’ve also added ‘info’ links if you want more details, such as extra measures for incoming passengers (see above for explainer).
🇦🇩 Andorra (free itinerary here) ✅ (info >) (Andorra removed on 8 Aug)
🇦🇹 Austria (free itinerary here) 📝 (no medical certificate necessary after 27 Jul) (info >)
🇧🇪 Belgium (free itinerary here) 📝 (travellers from Midlands, North East & Yorkshire, North West and Northern Ireland, Leicester, and Wales 🕒) (info >) (Belgium removed on 8 Aug) – Flights
🇭🇷 Croatia (free itineraries here and here) 📝 (info >)
🇨🇾 Cyprus 🌡️📝(info >)
🇨🇿 Czech Republic ✅ (info >)
🇩🇰 Denmark ✅
🇪🇪 Estonia ✅ (from 28 Jul) (free itinerary here) (info >)
🇫🇴 Faroe Islands ✅ (info >)
🇫🇮 Finland 🕒 (info >)
🇫🇷 France (free itinerary here) ✅ (info >)
🇩🇪 Germany (free itinerary here) ✅ (info >)
🇬🇮 Gibraltar ✅ (info >)
🇬🇷 Greece (free itinerary here) 🌡️📝 (if you are clear of Covid 24 hours of testing you’re free to leave your accommodation. If you’re not clear then you will be 🕒 for 14 days) (info >)
🇬🇱 Greenland 🌡️🕒📝 (info >)
🇭🇺 Hungary (free itinerary here) 🌡️🕒 (info >)
🇮🇸 Iceland 🕒 (info >)
🇮🇪 Ireland (free itinerary here) 📝 (info >)
🇮🇹 Italy (free itinerary here) ✅ (info >)
🇱🇻 Latvia ✅ (from 28 Jul) (info >)
🇱🇮 Liechtenstein (travel via Switzerland) ✅ (info >)
🇱🇹 Lithuania ✅ (info >)
🇱🇺 Luxembourg ✅ (info >) (Luxembourg removed on 31 Jul) – Flights
🇲🇹 Malta (free itinerary here) 📝 (info >)
🇲🇨 Monaco ✅ (info >)
🇳🇱 The Netherlands 📝 (info >)
🇳🇴 Norway ✅ (info >)
🇵🇱 Poland ✅ (info >)
🇸🇲 San Marino ✅ (info >)
🇸🇰 Slovakia ✅ (from 28 Jul) (free itinerary here) (info >)
🇸🇮 Slovenia ✅ (from 28 Jul) (free itinerary here) (info >)
🇷🇸 Serbia ❎ (info >) (Serbia removed on 10 July) 🇪🇸 Spain (free itinerary here) 🌡️📝 (info >) (Spain removed on 25 July) – Flights
🇨🇭 Switzerland (free itinerary here) ✅ (info >)
🇹🇷 Turkey (free itinerary here) 🌡️📝 (info >)
Americas & Caribbean
🇦🇮 Anguilla ❎ (info >)
🇦🇬 Antigua and Barbuda 🌡️(maybe 🕒 as well) (info >)
🇦🇼 Aruba ✅ (info >)
🇧🇸 The Bahamas 🌡️📝🕒 (info >) (Bahamas removed on 8 Aug)
🇧🇧 Barbados (free itinerary here) ✅ (info >)
🇧🇲 Bermuda 📝 (info >)
🇧🇶 Bonaire ✅ (info >)
🇻🇬 British Virgin Islands ✅ (🕒 for 7 days on Jost van Dyke) (info >)
🇰🇾 Cayman Islands ❎ (info >)
🇨🇼 Curaçao 🌡️📝 (info >)
🇩🇲 Dominica ❎ (info >)
🇬🇩 Grenada 🌡️(maybe 🕒 as well) (info >)
🇬🇵 Guadeloupe 🌡️📝(maybe 🕒 as well) (info >)
🇯🇲 Jamaica 🌡️📝🕒 (info >)
🇧🇱 St Barthélemy 📝 (info >)
🇰🇳 St Kitts and Nevis ❎ (info >)
🇱🇨 St Lucia (free itinerary here) 🌡️ (info >)
🇵🇲 St Pierre and Miquelon 📝 (info >)
🇻🇨 St. Vincent & Grenadines 🌡️📝🕒 (from 28 Jul) (info >)
🇹🇹 Trinidad and Tobago 🕒 (info >)
🇹🇨 Turks & Caicos ❎ (info >)
Africa & Middle East
Oceania & Antarctica
🇦🇺 Australia (free itineraries here and here) ❎ (info >)
🇦🇶 British Antarctic Territory (how to get there on a budget (ish)) ✅ (info >)
🇫🇯 Fiji (free itinerary here) ❎ (info >)
🇵🇫 French Polynesia 📝 (info >)
🇳🇨 New Caledonia 📝 (info >)
🇳🇿 New Zealand (free itineraries here and here) ❎ (info >)
When might the restrictions change?
Disappointed that the country you planned to travel to isn’t yet part of the travel corridors? Don’t fret. If daily active cases in the UK and/or the country you wish to travel to continue declining, then the government will be more likely to include that country in the travel corridors, particularly if it’s a popular tourist destination.
Estonia, for example, is waiting for the UK’s number of cases per 100k to drop below 25 before starting to permit tourists from this country. Estonia, Latvia, Slovakia, Slovenia and St Vincent and the Grenadines will be added to the list of travel corridors from 28 July. Portugal is very much in the spotlight as there are strong calls to remove the quarantine for this country (the FCO has deemed the Azores and Madeira ‘safe’). Latvia is open to UK travellers again but, for some reason, the UK government still requires you to quarantine on return – I imagine that will be changed soon. Cyprus is due to open to UK tourists from 1 Aug (as long as UK cases continue to improve). Japan is closed to UK travellers until at least the end of August. I’ll try to keep this page updated as often as possible.
Is it safe to travel?
Even though flight, train and ferry companies have put in place many new Covid travel safety rules, it would appear that your safety is still almost entirely down to the responsibility of fellow passengers. Many travel corridors destinations are insisting that visitors at least take a test on arrival.
When you get to the airport you will be instructed on how to queue at check-in, security and when boarding. You will also see instructions on where to sit when waiting for your flight.
Airlines are requiring passengers to wear a face mask at all times, and to replace face masks every four hours (note that some destinations may require different types of masks to the UK). All airlines have put in place advanced disinfecting techniques. Some airlines, such as British Airways, are giving passengers a personal protection pack containing an antibacterial wipe and hand sanitiser – all but Emirates and Virgin Atlantic require you to bring your own mask(s). Take a look at the government advice for more detail. Virgin Atlantic also have a useful page detailing the measures they’re taking, as do easyJet and, slightly less useful, is Ryanair’s Covid page.
Airlines aren’t, however, keeping seats free between passengers and so social distancing along travel corridors is not possible. The UN’s International Civil Aviation Organization has provided guidance to all airlines, but it’s not enforceable.
Similar to flights, you will need to wear a face mask for the duration of your train journey. You will need to supply your own mask. Every other seat on board Eurostar has been left empty and so it will be possible to maintain some level of social distancing (more details on their site). Train companies have also put in place advanced disinfecting techniques.
Ferry companies aren’t currently requiring you to wear a mask (although their staff will be). This, therefore, may be the most comfortable form of travel. In addition to making reserved seats and cabins compulsory, so as to ensure social distancing, ferry companies have put in place advanced cleaning operations. You can see more details about Britanny Ferries Coronavirus response here, P&O Ferries here, DFDS here, and Irish Ferries here.
Hotels and Hostels
Hotels are, perhaps, one of the safest places to be. Hotel managers are, after all, used to the idea of deep cleaning rooms. Although you may not be able to eat in their restaurants, room service should be available.
Some countries have implemented special training for hotel supervisors and have put in place rules for check-in queues, the removal of non-essential decorative items, as well as for keeping rooms empty for several hours between guests.
Of all the accommodation types I have seen preparing for guests during this crisis, it is probably hostels which seem to have been doing the most thorough job. Numbers of guests – especially in dorms – have been restricted by many hostels
AirBnB have asked their hosts to enact enhanced cleaning protocols, flexible cancellations and longer stays are being encouraged, and hosts have been given a vast array of advice on how to stay open during the crisis. HomeAway have been less insistent that their hosts put into place enhanced cleaning, but they do have guidance for their hosts. Unlike hotels, B&Bs are less tightly regulated, and so your safety is in the hands of your host.
Covid travel insurance
This is still an extremely unpredictable situation. Buying good insurance is, therefore, highly recommended. If you’re travelling in the EU, make sure that you have a valid European Health Insurance Card (EHIC) as you will still be able to receive treatment in local hospitals (UK citizens will no longer be eligible for EHIC after 31 Dec 2020).
Remember where I mentioned the FCO in the intro to this page? Well, that’s key to whether you’ll be covered by insurance. If the FCO advises against travel to a destination, then it’s highly likely you won’t be covered by insurance (this is true regardless of pandemics).
If you booked your trip and had travel insurance in place before the pandemic hit (most insurers use 12 March for this date) then you should be covered if you wish to cancel. You’ll find a vast wealth of information about cancellations and your rights on the MoneySavingExpert site.
Nationwide, Staysure, the Post Office, Alpha Travel Insurance, Insurancewith, JS Insurance, Trailfinders and Saga all now reportedly have Covid travel insurance in place which covers the virus, although some only cover cancellations and not medical treatment, plus most won’t let you cancel without good reason (i.e. not in the event that you change your mind about how safe it may be).
For more info and to compare insurers, click here.
What will travel be like?
It’s travel, Jim, but not as we know it.
You may well be required to take a swab test on arrival to your destination. Some may even insist that you remain in quarantine (which begs the question ‘is it actually worth travelling?’).
Flights will involve quiet, socially-distanced airports. Restaurants in airports will be closed, but pharmacies, some shops, and takeaway food retailers will be open. You may have to go through additional screening. Onboard your flight you will have to wear a mask for the duration and food may be limited, or non-existent. You’ll be sat directly next to other passengers, movement around the cabin may also be restricted and toilet visits managed by the crew. In short; air travel isn’t going to be much fun.
Train travel will feel much freer than flying – it will be easier to get up and walk around and you’ll have much more space, with every other seat on Eurostar left empty. Masks will still be required. However, if you take the Eurotunnel, you can drive your car up to the train, stay in your car for the journey, and then drive off 35 minutes later – perhaps the safest way to travel.
Ferries will offer the most freedom to roam and you won’t be required to wear a mask, although, again, restaurants will be closed and you will have to keep socially distant from other passengers.
When you arrive at your destination the cities will likely be much the same as the UK: quieter than usual, and with restaurants and some – if not all – cultural attractions such as museums shut down (although countries which have handled the crisis better than others will have already opened attractions – the Acropolis in Greece, for example). These restrictions are planned to ease further in July (the Louvre will re-open on 6 July), but the situation may change quickly depending on number of cases.
Beaches, bars and pools may feel emptier and you will likely be asked to keep your distance – a beach bar owner in Greece is even going so far as to put up plexiglass barriers between sun loungers.
In conclusion, going to countries with whom we have travel corridors is going to feel very strange and very unsociable. If you’re desperate, then you should be OK if you follow the rules, but otherwise I’d just wait until life gets much further back to normal
How do I know all this?
That’s a valid question. As I stated at the beginning, this isn’t official advice. I’ve put together all of the information here having followed the stories about air bridges since they first appeared many weeks ago. I note the confirmed information broadcast by UK travel journalists, I watch their video updates and I listen to their podcasts. I track government announcements, I monitor the FCO site, I listen to Parliament TV (so dull) and I read reports in local country media about travel corridors. I’ve also taken information from the sites of various tourist board, accommodation, airlines, ferry and train companies. Finally, I like to think that I can identify reliable sources having worked in travel for 20 years!
This blog is all about planning for travel and so I know how important it is to have as much accurate information as possible – if you have found it helpful then I would greatly appreciate a small donation (link below) if you can afford it. Happy (and safe) travels!
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